“Many a night I saw the Pleiades rising through the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.” Lord Tennyson
What a great simile. Tennyson was talking about the Pleiades, a constellation rising in the eastern sky at sundown. It consists of nine stars, seven of which represent the daughters of Atlas: The Seven Sisters. Even from our well-lit subdivision, I can see this star group and pick out at least five stars. Colorado, with its low humidity, is a wonderful place for near-sighted star gazers.
The Seven Sisters, eternally entwined in the sky, makes me think of a family, supporting and protecting one another. Without the other six, a single star could not form such a beautiful shape.
In a way, they are like the characters in a story. Each one defines the others; each one explains the others.
The revision lesson I’m working on now requires an in-depth look at the characters in my novel. Why is a character in a particular scene? Are they relating to each other, interacting in a way that entices the reader, moving him forward with the story or, are they trying for independence, dragging the reader away from the story, confusing him? Is the character strong in her beliefs, clearly defined, and bright, or is she wishy-washy, blurred, and boring?
And what about the reader? Is he filled with curiosity, dread, or pleasure by the character’s actions? Does he feel, even though he doesn’t consciously notice it, the power of the entire group of characters, interacting with one another?
If the answer is yes, the character in question gets to stay. If not, she’s gone. I can keep her good (and bad) qualities and morph her with another character to birth a new person altogether but, in my case, I think my characters are fully formed. I hope.
They’ve built their own constellation, and as I revise I see their pattern wheeling across the sky, leaving their sparkle in my mind.